John LaPlante, Jr.

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John Maurice LaPlante, Jr.

(Journalist, columnist
and university professor)

John LaPlante, Jr., of LA.jpg

Born January 31, 1953
New Orleans, Louisiana
Died April 14, 2007 (aged 54)
Galveston, Texas

Resting place:
Resthaven Gardens of Memory in Baton Rouge

Spouse Merrill LaPlante

Children:
David and Anne LaPlante
Parents:
John, Sr., and Ann Montgomery LaPlante

Religion Roman Catholic

John Maurice LaPlante, Jr. (January 31, 1953 – April 14, 2007), was an American political columnist, news bureau director, and university professor based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who spent more than three decades covering state government and politics.

His terminal position, begun in 1998, was as the editor of the six-person Capitol News Bureau for The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. LaPlante's "Political Horizons" column on Sundays particularly secured a large readership and often sparked heated comments from readers and state officials.

Background

Born in New Orleans, LaPlante was the second oldest of ten children of John LaPlante, Sr. (1927-2018), and the former Ann Montgomery. The senior LaPlante graduated in 1958 from Loyola University in New Orleans and was employed by Helicopters, Inc., and Offshore Navigation, Inc., from which he retired as the secretary-treasurer. In 1960, he became a Certified Public Accountant and moved his family to Mandeville in suburban St. Tammany Parish. There he became active in youth sports leagues and worked to bring Babe Ruth league baseball to Mandeville.[1]

The junior LaPlante graduated in 1971 from Mandeville High School and earned his bachelor's degree in journalism, including work for The Daily Reveille student newspaper, at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Career

After a stint with the Alexandria Town Talk in the late 1970s, he joined The Baton Rouge Advocate as a political reporter.[2]

His obituary notes that LaPlante:

won respect from colleagues and politicians alike for his persistence, writing abilities, and the fairness that he showed in his stories. [He] enjoyed researching government documents and covering press conferences and legislative hearings to provide a first-hand look at issues that affected the daily lives of citizens. [He] was a friend to the reporters whose work he oversaw. He performed countless acts of kindness for his colleagues ...[2]

LaPlante obtained a master's degree in journalism from LSU in December 2001, and he thereafter taught introductory and advanced journalism courses at his alma mater. He was a longtime leader of the Press Club of Baton Rouge and the Boy Scouts of America at St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church. He directed his church's efforts to support Habitat for Humanity, and he volunteered with the American Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, having distributed food to the downtrodden of New Orleans.[2]

Death and legacy

LaPlante drowned while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and was pronounced dead at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. In addition to his parents and children, David and Anne, LaPlante was survived by his wife, Merrill, nine siblings, and three dozen nieces and nephews. Services were held in St. Aloysius Church. He is interred at Resthaven Gardens of Memory in Baton Rouge.[2]

Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer of Baton Rouge recalled in a statement to The Morning Advocate that LaPlante was a most dedicated journalist: "John was a stickler for the truth. He was passionate about his work, and he was persistent. What I remember about John is the fact he was always there. If there was something happening that was shaping Louisiana, John was there."

LaPlante was the third prominent Louisiana journalist to die unexpectedly between April 14 and July 8, 2007. Tim Greening, humor columnist with The Shreveport Times, died on April 18 of an apparent heart attack at the age of only thirty-eight. Ken Case of television station KNOE in Monroe, died in a traffic accident on May 10. Mike Dunne, environmental reporter for The Baton Rouge Advocate, died of cancer.

On February 2, 2008, less than a year after his death, LaPlante was inducted into theLouisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[3]

References

  1. Obituary of John Maurice LaPlante, Sr.. The New Orleans Times-Picayune (March 20, 2018).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 John Maurice LaPlante, Jr.. The Baton Rouge Advocate (April 17, 2007). Retrieved on May 23, 2015.
  3. Political Hall of Fame: John M. LaPlante, Jr.. Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame (February 2, 2008). Retrieved on March 20, 2018.